MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here, we evaluated the expression of miRNAs in anterior cingulate (AC; Brodmann area [BA] 24) and primary motor (MO; BA 4) cortical tissue from aged human brains in the University of Kentucky AD Center autopsy cohort, with a focus on dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).


RNA was isolated from gray matter of brain samples with pathology-defined DLB, AD, AD+DLB, and low-pathology controls, with n=52 cases initially included (n=23 with DLB), all with low (<4hrs) postmortem intervals. RNA was profiled using Exiqon miRNA microarrays. Quantitative PCR for post-hoc replication was performed on separate cases (n=6 controls) and included RNA isolated from gray matter of MO, AC, primary somatosensory (BA 3), and dorsolateral prefrontal (BA 9) cortical regions.


The miRNA expression patterns differed substantially according to anatomic location: of the relatively highly-expressed miRNAs, 150/481 (31%) showed expression that was different between AC versus MO (at p<0.05 following correction for multiple comparisons), most (79%) with higher expression in MO. A subset of these results were confirmed in qPCR validation focusing on miR-7, miR-153, miR-133b, miR-137, and miR-34a. No significant variation in miRNA expression was detected in association with either neuropathology or sex after correction for multiple comparisons.


A subset of miRNAs (some previously associated with α-synucleinopathy and/or directly targeting α-synuclein mRNA) were differentially expressed in AC and MO, which may help explain why these brain regions show differences in vulnerability to Lewy body pathology.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Brain Research, v. 1678, p. 374-383.

© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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Funding Information

Study funding: P30 AG028383, R21 NS085830 from the National Institutes of Health.

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The corresponding author Dr. Peter Nelson had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

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